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Best Mick Taylor Rolling Stones Song – Readers’ Poll

Evening Standard Hulton Archive, Getty Images

It’s a debate-starter, for sure, but many fans consider Mick Taylor, who turns 63 today (Jan. 17), the best guitarist the Rolling Stones ever had! While Keith has his own coolness, Ronnie is always great and Brian Jones may have had the most overall musical talent, Taylor’s lead guitar work during his short but sweet stint in the ‘world’s greatest rock and roll band’ set an extremely high standard.

Starting his professional career at age 17 with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1967, Taylor so impressed John Mayall that he was asked to take over the lead guitar spot left by the one and only Peter Green (who left to form Fleetwood Mac with another ex-Bluesbreaker, John McVie).

In mid-1969, Brian Jones was ousted from The Rolling Stones. John Mayall suggested Mick Jagger and Richards give Taylor a shot. His first public performance with the band was at Hyde Park in July of ’69 for what ended up being a memorial concert for Jones, who died just three days prior. Taylor joined the band in the studio for the recording of the ‘Let It Bleed’ album soon thereafter.

Taylor’s style of playing differed greatly from both Brian and Keith, and he added a whole other angle to the sound of the band. His playing on tracks like ‘Moonlight Mile’ and ‘Sway’ (both from the band’s 1971 album ‘Sticky Fingers’) is nothing short of haunting.

The best way to experience the genius of Taylor’s playing was the live concerts the Stones did at the time. He was particularly in his element during the band’s 1972 tour. There are a handful of amazing bootl…um, unreleased live recordings from this period where Taylor is just on fire! Maybe the band will eventually get around to releasing these as part of their Stones Archives series.

Taylor left the Stones in late 1974. While reasons were never officially declared, it was often said that tensions between he and Keith Richards, as well as the overall lifestyle, wore him down. Taylor has continued to play music to this day, joining up with his old band mates in 2010 to add guitar tracks to previously unissued tracks on the deluxe edition of ‘Exile on Main Street.’

Richards has been musing in the press recently about inviting Taylor to perform with the band as part of whatever celebrations (if any) take place to mark the Stones’ 50th anniversary. If that happens, maybe we can help them decide which songs to play by choosing the best Stones songs from the Taylor era – make your choice below!

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